A Belle Glade apartment complex where inspectors found various health and safety violations could be transformed as part of a $50 million affordable housing project.
Miami-based Ytech International was cited in August after inspectors found a litany of health and safety concerns at Grand Lake Apartments, a 384-unit complex located at 2000 S. Main St. in Belle Glade. The inspectors found unsafe or non-existent staircases, rodent infestation, active wasp nests, mold, broken windows, garbage, open sewer clean-out pipes and discarded mattresses and tarps in abandoned swimming pools.
The violations drew the attention of federal, state and local officials. County staff members, who toured the complex, were concerned at one point that some of the residents might have to be relocated.
Officials at Ytech, which bought the complex for $7.6 million in 2013, pledged to address the citations. In the weeks that followed the inspections, some of the company’s efforts to make repairs were stymied by vandals.
Ytech had tried to sell the complex before, but those plans fizzled. Residents’ complaints about the complex were the subject of a television news report in 2014.
Assistant County Administrator Shannon LaRocque said Wednesday that the county helped Ytech find a buyer for the complex: Miami-based Housing Trust Group, which specializes in affordable housing.
HTC has an extensive portfolio of properties in the county, including Colony Park Apartments on Belvedere Road west of West Palm Beach, Kensington at Royal Palm Beach Apartments on Crestwood Circle, and Marina Bay Apartments on Lantana Road west of Lantana.
LaRocque said HTC has agreed in principle to pay $9 million for Grand Lake and is seeking public and private financing for what would be a $50 million project that includes refurbishing the troubled complex.
Ytech had refurbishment plans of its own, but those plans have been shelved as it seeks to sell the complex.
“During this time frame, we will be continuing with the ongoing daily management and maintenance of the property,” Ytech Chief Executive Officer Yamal Yidios wrote. “As you know, we were in the process of gearing up to perform a complete rehabilitation of Grand Lake Apartments. Due to the anticipated sale of the property, the construction activities that we originally anticipated performing will be scaled back. These activities were being planned with the mind-set that we were going to hold the property long term, which is no longer the case.”
The impending sale of the complex does not mean Ytech can postpone addressing health and safety violations. Those must be addressed according to time lines laid out after the inspections.
Failure to address those violations could result in fines.
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose staff was alerted to the problems at Grand Lake, said the health and safety violations won’t be overlooked even if broader repairs wait for the next owner.
“The aesthetics that (Ytech) were going to do, they might hold off on,” McKinlay said.
McKinlay, whose district includes Belle Glade, said she’s pleased by the prospect of the property being sold and upgraded.
“If this deal goes through, it would be a wonderful thing for the community,” she said.